tv Bleeding Kansas the Origins of the Civil War CSPAN November 22, 2018 1:10pm-2:16pm EST
at 8:00 p.m. eastern. when did the civil war truly begin? next military history professor harry laver argues that the battles in kansas between forces marked the beginning of the american civil war. the professor discusses the bloody 1856 caning of massachusetts senator charles sumner by a pro-slavery congressman on the u.s. senate floor. the watkins museum of history in lawrence, kansas, hosted this one-hour event. >> good morning, everyone. welcome to the keynote address for civil war in the western frontier events at the watkins. i'm public engagement coordinator here at the museum. we're so happy to have you here for the keynote address and thesore events that are happening. so i will start off by doing a
brief introe for today's distinguished speaker. professor laver is is a professor of military history. he specializes in the american civil war in world war ii europe. his recent publications include a general who will fight the leadership of u.s. grant and he serve d as co-editor for the ar of command, american mill ta leadership from george washington to colin powell. he was a scholar at the national university of ireland. he's lectured at the u.s. military academy at west point, the irish defense forces military college, naval cadet course and lectured for numerous business and community organizations and universities. his current book project is grant and his generals, a study in civil war command. we encourage you to ask questions at the end and we ask
that you use the microphone stand up here when you ask questions. and i would just mention that there are a few spots available for our 6:00 p.m. tours if you're interested. we also encourage you to visit the explore lawrence website. they have a whole page devoted to civil war in the western frontier events happening across the koth county. so please check that out. >> thank you. thank you for the invitation to be here today at the watkins. what a fantastic facility. it's the first i have been here. i've only been in the area for a couple years. but have not made my way through. but i can see now that for local history when we have family come to visit, we're going to be bringing them down here to the watkins. this is an amazing facility.
as will mentioned in his introduction, i teach at the command general staff college. whenever my colleagues and i go out to talk with the public, we like to say a few words about what we do up there at the staff college. we found many people don't really know what goes on up there. there's the prison. the disciplinary barracks it's known up there. at fort eleven worth, that's only one tiny part of what happens. there's a whole range of things. but the staff college provides for our military leaders. sort of a mid-career graduate level education. officers come there usually about the rank of major. those who are familiar with m l military rank, they have served for 10 or 12 years. 30, 35 years old, about the middle of their career. we typically have about 1200
students. the majority of which are army officers, but we have a significant number from the sister services, the air force, navy, coast forward. along with representatives from a number of civilian institutions, organizations in the u.s. government like the department of defense, the fbi, the cia, boarder patrol, a range of agencies send a student there each year to study at the staff college. in addition to that part of the 1200 is typically about 110 international officers. this year from 90 different countries level we'll spend a year at the staff college studying along with our american officers. it's not your typical university. they are taking courses in things like tactics and logistics and joint operations. and the purpose there is two-fold. one, to shift their focus that's been pretty narrow on small units throughout much of their career to larger units. the planning responsibilities and leadership responsibilities that go along with more
significant commands. and they are learning new concepts, technical language that goes with conducting military operations. very precise language. so whenever they go out for the rest of their career and they meet other officers, they are all speaking the same language, if you're thinking about something, you want everybody on the same page. that goes with our international partners as well. right now over in europe, most of you are probably familiar with nato. i can guarantee you that there are american officers there right now who graduated from fort leaven worth who are working with partners, many. of whom also graduated and spent a year together building those relationships and learning that same common language. so that's in part what we do up there in the command and staff college. and it's one instance where i can't say in all cases, but one instance where your tax dollars are being spent very wisely and
efficiently. so we appreciate the contributions you make in that sense. let's talk about some history. if i ask you where and when did the civil war begin, what would you say? right here. when did it begin? 1854. okay. well, if i was anywhere but right here, most people would say april 12th, 1861. fort sumter in south carolina. but i'm going to try to convince you and i i don't think it's going to be very difficult, that there's an alternative beginning for the american civil war. that in fact the civil war began over a six-day period in may of 1856. and actually in two places.
in washington, d.c. back east and then right here in kansas. now to understand why i'm going to make this argument that the civil war began in 1856 five years early by most people's accounts and in different locations, we have to really set the context for what happened in those six days. let's back up just a little bit. two years to may of 1854. at that point, the united states was in a very good place. the mexican war ended a few years earlier. the united states had gain. ed a huge chunk of territory. the whole southwestern corner of the u.s. gained in that territory. the issue of slavery that had been so contentious for so long had somewhat boiled down. because o most of that seemingly had been resolved. so the country was really focused on building itself.
expand iing the economy. becoming more politically stable as far as the world community goes. and one element of that, a dream that the country's leadership had had for years. was a transcontinental railroad. that rail line that was going to connect the atlantic to the pacific, the east to the west, the settled east to the not quite so settled western part of the country. and there was significant debate about where this rail line was going to go. you think in an interstate goes through a rural part of the united states what does it bring with it? people. and development and economic prosperity. it was the same thing for that railroad. whoever got that rail load was going to see a boom in their region. so across the country, there were advocates for different rail lines. there was an ed a advocate or n
of advocates for a southern rail line that would begin on the east coast, stretch across the southern tier of the united states across the broad spans of texas all the way to southern california. one of the loudest proponents for that was a senator from mississippi by the name of jefferson davis. there are advocates for a middle of the country rail line somewhere around washington, going through st. louis, across missouri and then to northern california. advocates for a northern route, bosse tornado warnings new york, philadelphia, stretching across to chicago. there were already rail lines, but from chicago then across to the west coast. so everybody is fighting for this. one of the great proponents of the northern rail line was an illinois politician. a man that many americans don't recognize today at all. steven douglas. some of you recognize. now stephen douglas, again, not well remembered by many today,
was one of the most powerful political leaders in the united states in this period. he was a senator from illinois. and in the 1950s, leaders in congress, the senior leaders in congress were far more powerful than they seem to be today and the president was not quite as powerful. we had sort of a shifting of that political power since the 1950s. so stephen douglas, one of thos powerful individuals, in fact, he was known as the little giant, he stood barely 5'4". he was a workaholic, an alcoholic and would be dead justice after fort sumner. he's going to die just as the firing on fort sumter took place. he lived to see the beginning of the war but not how it concluded. he knew to get that northern rail line, he was going.
to have to work some kind of political deals, not that different now. now for those southerners, who douglas knew he had to get on board. he had to get southern votes to get the rail line out of chicago. he knew that those southerners were opposed to the northern rail line. that's going to bring the economic prosperity to the north. but the southerners had another concern. and it was where that rail line was going to go. because if we look at this map, if you look at chicago and you look out to the west, what's out there past iowa? unorganized territory. that was part of the old louisiana purchase. tom jefferson's really great real estate deal in 180 3. by legislation, the missouri compromise of 1820, all of that unorganized territory was going to be free of slaves. no slavery was going to be
permitted in that unorganized territory when it petitioned for statehood. so this was really the concern of the southern politicians. as that rail line stretches west, people are going to pop late it, petition congress for statehood and that's going to throw greater political power to the north in the anti-slavery clause. so this is the deal he had to work out. then congress and in the senate, the debates were pretty intense over this issue. one example was george badger here a senator from north carolina, in making an argument about slavery in those ster toirs. he said if some southern gentleman wishes to take the old woman who nursed him in childhood, meaning a slooif into the new territories why in the name of god should anyone prevent it. that slave was his appropriapro. why should anyone prevent a man
from taking his property anywhere in the united states he wanted to. a differing view came from this man, chase. senator fl ohio. not too many years off would become the success tear of treasury in abraham lincoln's cabinet. . chase said this about this legislation that was being debated. he called it a criminal betrayal of precious rights, ab atrocious plot convert into a dreary region inhabited only by masters and slaves. and what chase and other northern political leaders first saw was if slavery is permitted, they will go out with their slaves and you'll have a very small minority of extraordinary rich individuals and slaves. and the small would say family farmer would have no chance to compleete.
despite the heated debates, this piece of legislation passed and this was the kansas-nebraska act of 1854. now stephen douglas believed he had come up with the perfect solution to resolve this issue. he got his northern rail line. and the the issue of slavery, he believed, would still be settled. because how was this going to be resolved in that kansas and now nebraska territories? to douglas's genius idea tofs let the people decide. let the people vote. when a territory petitions congress for statehood, take a vote. do you want to be slave or free? the american way, the democratic way. what could be a better way to solve this issue. they were very happy about the solution. because territory that had been
blocked off from them and their slaves now potentially could be opened. those who didn't want slavery to, pand were opposed because they believe that they had already had this territory on their side and slave free. now it was open once again. depending on how the people vote. douglas envisioned, as we see here, that kansas would vote to become a slave state. missouri just o to the east was a slave state. kansas would become. he did not anticipate at all the consequences of this kansas-nebraska act, because what it created in the united states was political chaos.
two parties in the country at the time. the democratic party, the party of andrew jackson, the party of thomas jefferson, the party to which most southern political leaders and slave holders aligned were fairly happy with this act. and even northern democrats who maybe were uncomfortable with slavery maintained their loya y loyalties to one of their party leaders. so the democrats fairly held together. the other party at the time was the wig party. don't exist anymore. they organized just a few decades earlier in opposition to andrew jackson. now those who lived in the south found loyalties far more tied to the institution of slavery than to the wig party. so many of them joined the democrats. in the north, the wigs just didn't know what to do. they knew the party was dissolving. they were debating, should we try to hold ourselves together.
some did. but really what happens is all those northern wigs just sort of splintered into whole range of different parties competing with each other. there was the free democratic party, the free soil party, the liberty party, the intriguingly named no nothing party. and it's that republican party that really began to gain some traction. to the point that in 1856 in the presidential election the republicans would run a candidate for president. he wouldn't win, but they were at least organized to run someone for president. in all of this turmoil, kansas was now going to be the flash point. because kansas had a large enough. population to begin the process for looking at statehood and transitioning from territory to
state hod. so both sides, the pro-slavery saw kansas as the opportunity to make a statement of their political power and keep the trim line of political power shifting in their direction. poet sides knew they could potentially influence the fate of kansas by getting more voters out to kansas. so organizations began to secnd people out to advocate for the anti-slavery side. it was one of those. on the other side, the senator from missouri began organizing slave holders to send across the border to influence and advocate for the pro slavery side. and not surprisingly with so much at stake, so much emotion
involved, violence began to break out. hence we arrive at bleeding kansas. well, by january of 1856, there were two territorial governments in place in kansas. one, a free state government and a pro slavery government in compton. s this the context in which the six days i mentioned earlier come about. and i'm sure much of that history i just described, most of you know far better than i do. the first of those six days that i want to mention came on may 19th. for this event we have to go back to washington. and on may 19th, in washington in the senate chambers, a senator from the state of massachusetts arose to give a
speech. charles sumner, now charles sumner was one of those leading political figures in the country. not quite as powerful as stephen douglas, but one of the lieader, nonetheless. and charles sumner was an anti-slavery advocate. and his speech was entitled the crime of kanssouth. and in his speech he railed against southerners. he railed against southern political leaders. he railed against slave owners. he railed against the small powerful contingent of wealthy slave owners who were not only trying to control the south, they were now trying to control the best and indeed sumner argues they are trying to control the entire united states. he condemned what he called the
murderous robbers from missouri. the pit from the drunken spew and vomit of an uneasy slave-holding civilization. for two days his speech continued. we think it's bad today. and over the course of this two-day speech, as you already have a sense, he insulted the south in general, southern political leaders, slave owners and even in some cases individual southern political senators. sumner was assailing slavery over those two days, the 19th and 20th of may, back out here on the frontier over in missouri, some of those border
ruffians had been organizing themselves. and they crossed over into kansas and again i'm sure many of you know this story. on may 21st, they approached lawrence. and they were seeking out some of those leaders of the free state government to put them on some sort of trial. the citizens of lawrence offered really no opposition, but. the boarder ruffians moved in ay way and sacked the town of lawrence. burning newspaper offices, shops and homes. now across the country, pro-slavery ed a advocates were outraged at the abolitionists who had come from new england and innovated kansas and they were the cause of all the violence that erupted here on the front. abolitionists across the country were outraged at the border ruffians who had invaded kansas
from missouri and they were the cause of all the violence that had broken out here. in kansas. the thing they could agree on is the other side did the invading and was a source of all the violence that had taken place. while lawrence was being sacked on the 21st of may, one day after sumner concluded his speech, while lawrence was being sacked, there was one man who was making his way in the direction of lawrence. and that man was as we discussed yerl. maybe the most important man in american history, john brown. john brown important in connecticut had lived in a number of places in the northern tier of the united states had tried farming and business. he had 20 children, 2 wives, one after another. and at this point was 56.
he found his calling. that had saw himself as god's instrument for the abolition of slavery in the united states. citing hebrews, without the shedding of blood there's no remission of sin. and the nation had sinned. the sin of slavery and john brown was going to be willing to shed blood if need be. so in the summer of 1855 you had headed to kansas, arrived in the middle of all the debates and the violence that was going on. he joined a free state militia with some of his older sons and was on his way to lawrence when he heard of the sacking of the town. and this infuriated brown. to the point he abducted five pro-slavery advocates. and with broad swords split
their skulls. in the name of god and divine justice. now known as the pott wattmy massac massacre. with violence taking place, the sacking of lawrence just a couple days earlier on the 21st, it should be no surprise the actions of john brown and others in the region. while john brown was taking up the broad sword, back in washington, the city was still abuzz over charles sumner's verbal assault on the south and everything that the south dear. one of the individuals that charles sumner insulted personally was a man named andrew butler. a senator from the state of
south carolina. now i think most of you are probably familiar that in this era in the 1850s that when a southern gentleman's honor is questioned, when his integrity is impugned, he must take action. and that action being a dual. but andrew butler was of a fairly advanced age. beyond the age where the rules of dualing really required him to challenge charles sumner to a dual. pause there were unwritten rules of dualing. so to defend the honor of butler, to defend the honor of south carolina, to defend the honor of the south, the responsibility fell to butler's younger cousin, a man named preston brooks, who coincidentally also represented south carolina in congress in the house of representatives. he represented the edgefield district of the state.
so brooks now had the responsibility to uphold the honor of all southerners and his elderly cousin andrew butler. the rules i mentioned about duelling prohibited andrew butler from challenging charles sumner to a duel. because you only challenged a social equal to a duel. if you challenged a social inferior, that would elevate to the same social rank as you. and charles sumner was nowhere near the rank of a southern gentleman. so andrew but. letter had to take -- i'm sorry, preston brooks had to take other action. so may 22 bd, the day after the sacking of lawrence, brooks made his way into the senate chambers there in the capitol there in washington and approached charles sumner who was sit issing at his desk working. they exchanged a few words.
and then preston took out his cane and began to beat charles sumner. the two men struggled. sumner trying to rise from his desk there on the sflat floenat. they pulled the desk -- the desk was bolted to the floor. but the desk turned over as they were struggling with each other. senators there in the chamber and other senators in the corridor heard the commotion ask came rushing in. some rushed to pull him off. other senators held them back to let brooks continue with his assault. finally preston brooks is pulled off of sumner and probably save sumner's life. he was seriously injured to the point that it would be three years before he could resume his duties as a senator. across the country, the response
was somewhat different to what became known as the sumner sumner/brooks affair. writing this the new york evening post had to th to say. has it come to this? are we to be chastised as they chastise d their slaves? are we too slaves, slaves for life, a target for their brutal blows when we do not comport ourselves to please them? this really characterized the northern view of preston brooks. gentlemen, debate, no, he turns to violence. but in south carolina, preston brooks' home district ro this. s some say sumner receive lashes. yet we very much doubt if captain brooks cared to exceed the legal number of 39.
by law you couldn't whip a slave more than 39 times. we feel that our represent you have did exactly right and we are sure his people will commend him highly for it. and then even more ominously, we have bourn insult long enough and now let the conflict come if it must. another man who recorded his reaction to this was a senator from georgia named alexander stevens. who in about five years would find himself with the title of vice president of the confederacy. steem stephens wrote, brooks whipped sumner the other day. i have no objection to the liberty of speech when the liberty is free to combat. i already mentioned what happened to sumner. brooks faced a vote to be
expelled from the house of representatives. but the vote did not succeed. enough southerners in the house of representatives voted for brooks to maintain his seat despite the assault on a fellow member of congress. brooks, however, voluntarily resigned his seat in the senate and went back to south carolina. the district, though h to hold a special election to send someone to fill that society and they sent almost unanimously preston brooks back to the house of representatives. and over this period by some accounts, preston brooks received dozens of canes in the mail, with the inscription of "hit him harder." two days after the sumner/brooks affair is when john brown takes those five pro-slavery
advocates. wasn't can make an argument this was a turning point from which there was no going back. blood had been shed. and shed not just on the frontier, not just from as some would characterize him a nut like john brown. out in the west where the laws did not apply. but blood had been is shed in the very heart of the united states government. in the senate chambers. where discussion, debate, co compromise had guided the country's electioned officials for more than 80 years. the very structure upon which the american system of government, a democratic system of government had stretched to the breaking point. and there in many ways we see
the beginning of the civil war. but this violence and bloodshed in two locations isn't the end of the story. nor is it the beginning. of a larger story. because if we pull the camera back tr those six days in may of 1856 and even if we pulled it back further from the american civil war and look at those events in a much larger historical perspective, all the horrors that the civil war brought to the american people of all regions, of all races, all of that was part of the country's evidenolutionary art through history. everything that came before and happened since is part of that
ark. and we could have different options here, but. i'd like to place the beginning of that in 1776 when thomas jefferson writes the declaration of independence. in which he says in part, in words that most of you probably know by heart, we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. down by their creator with certain rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. now in 1776 there's no question that many people in america were denied those rights. but jefferson identified an ideal at that point towards which this new country could strive. and if we move ahead now on that ark of american history, 87 years, and in this case we're going to stop in 1863.
november 19th specifically in 1863 because it's on that day that abraham lincoln travelled to a small town in gettysburg to dedicate a national cemetery to the soldiers who fought and died there at gettysburg. in part what lincoln said in that address and again words that many of you know i'm sure, four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth a new nation, con sooved in liberty that all men are created equal. the same phrase is jefferson not by coincidence. now in 1863 did all americans share in those rights to identify? not but all means, but nevertheless there'd been a shift, not a large, but there had been a shift.
the ideal had not been reach ed. one more stop in this ark that we're looking at. let's advance now almost exactly 100 years. in this case to 1963. in washington, d.c. on the steps of the monument to abraham lincoln, martin luther king jr. gave a speech in which part i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of the creed. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. by that point, more americans had come to accept the notion that all men, all women, all races, all religions were indeed to benefit tr those rights jefferson had identified so long ago. has that ideal been realized since? no, honestly not. and i don't know if it ever will
be. in part, isn't that the nature of an ideal. it's something ha that we must always strive to achieve. to that end, abraham lincoln, i think, put the suffering that the nation had experienced in the civil war suggesting that all those events of the six days in may of 1860, the events we have experienced since then that all of those were a test. as lincoln put it of whether any nation so con sooved and so dedicated to those ideals of liberty and natural rights. that test continues and will continue as far as we can see into the future. near the end of lincoln's address, he reminds his listeners there at gettisburg and across the nation through
newspapers and i think we can say across time as well that all americans have a responsibility to continue the pursuit of that ideal. as lincoln said, it is for us the living to be. here dedicated to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have so nobly advanced. that this nation under god shall have a new birth and freedom and government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not parish from the earth. thaupg for your time, your attention and i think we can do some questions if anyone has them. thank you. [ applause ] i have been asked if you have questions if you'd use the
microphone so the audiences on c-span can hear you. >> i want to give the audience members a chance before i launched into it. does anyone have anything to ask right away? can bill asks his question. i can repeat the question. >> people have often mentioned that various quantities have been written about famous people. i think it's been kwoeted that one of the most quantitiable number of books have been written about abraham lincoln. do you have any information on that? >> i don't have concrete numbers because right now there's probably two or three new ones on lincoln popping up on amazon.com. the question was if lincoln had more books written about him than anyone else is a way to paraphrase that. it wouldn't surprise me.
and in talking to a publisher a few years ago working on my u.s. grant project, it sort of came up of do we really have a market for another book on grnt. for another book on grant. he brought up the lincoln issue, he says there is always listenon books coming out, and the reason so many books come out every year is because people are interested in lincoln. he is a fascinating character. wouldn't surprise me at all if he is at the top of the list f not, near the top of the list anything else. >> any more questions are the audience? if not, i will imprison you for a little while because i have some questions. >> certainly. >> my first question is a little provocative at least for cansans, probably. we sell a book here at the museum by craig miner, which is titled i believe kansas in the news. it talks about the 1850s with a lot of discussion of the events that you mentioned.
and his -- one of his theses is that it wasn't as big a deal as people at the time -- many people believed or that we think that we tend to think it was today. he says in fact a lot of people at the time in the newspapers complained about all the news from kansas and said they were sick and tired of hearing about kansas, that it was all over the news and it was sort of a techest in a tea pot. i'm wondering if the sense you have gotten in your research of how the rest of the country, not just political leaders, but ordinary folks or editors, people like in their communities, thought about what was happening out here in the west. >> this is in an era before all the cable news channels. right? there is an element of truth in that. because, remember, in the 1850s, despite what we think of the industrialized north, most americans everywhere were farmers. electricity was nowhere in the country at the time. the news you got was a weekly
newspaper and that was about it. most americans were committed to their own lives and trying to make as best of a living as they could. matters of national concern probably didn't resonate on most people's radar screens. at the national level, however, among those individuals that we talked about, yes, kansas was a big deal. everyone know how was that vote going to go? will it resolve things? no one knew. kansas became a state in 1861, after all the events we are talking about. once the civil war begins. until one sense, yes for the average american probably not such a big deal but for those involved with running the government and looking forward for the country's future i would say a very big deal. >> i have two more at least, and i know you mentioned at the beginning that you weren't really here to talk about u.s. grant. i have to ask, because i find him fascinating as clearly many
of our audience members do. what was he doing in may of 1856? i know he had left the military earlier, correct. >> correct. >> i have to know what was happening in grant's life while all this commotion was going on? >> grant as many of you know graduated from west point. he finished 21 out of 39. not at the bottom like so many are willing to make an argument. such as kuster who did finish at the bottom of his class. he resigned from the army in 1854. a number of citations for his role in the mexican war. he had a wife and children back east. that is when he perhaps turned to drink and resigned. we don't know if it was forced out, or he was so miserable and he decided to resign and he came back east to illinois.
where he tried a number of things through the mid 1850s. tried farming. named it hard scrabble, not the best choice. he tried some real estate venture, lost money, business partnerships, the partners ran off with his money. by the late 1850s, grant took a job working for his father in one of his father's leather good stores. for grant, that was the worst possible place he could be. his father was a relentless critic. and grant believed that taking a job with his father meant he had failed, failed as a soldier. failed as a business man. failed as a farmer failed as a father and a husband. so that was the worst thing that could happen to him. he's working there essentially when the civil war begins. and in a relatively short amount of time he finds himself commanding some illinois volunteers. the next thing you know,ly in battle, and then he begins the rye from there. he was really at his low point
in the mid-1850s. >> he was not particularly interested in politics really, was he, before the war. >> no. >> i heard he never voted or only once or twice. >> he was not. his father was somewhat active in local politics, which is how grant ended up with his appointment to west point. his father had some political connections. grant really had no political -- best we know he leaned sort of toward the democratic party before the war began. steven douglas in illinois. once the war began and as it went on he requesticly adopted the ideals of lincoln. grant had never been an advocate of slavery at all. so he fell in line with the republican party. >> okay. >> good afternoon. i had an epiphany moment. i would like to hear ire comments on it. i was watching on tv somebody who is a well respected journalist, probably on cnn and fox. and they were talking about the civil war.
and she said, we don't talk about that, because we lost. i always viewed the civil war victory by the north as a victory for america. does the south feel the same way? >> i spent 15 years -- 17 years teaching in louisiana and mississippi. grew up in north carolina. born in ohio. so i do not speak for all southerners. but a few observations on that question of how does the south feel about the civil war today? depend on who you ask, of course. there is a whole range of responses to that. one thing you will hear often is the war is not over. it's only halftime. one view. but i think shelby foot. many of you know the historian who appeared on ken burn's civil war series in the 1990s.
his comment about this was that southerners are very peculiar about that war. and maybe the best description i have heard that guess to that point of how to southerners feel about who won is that many southerners wish they had won every battle, but they are happy they lost the war. because they do want to be part of the united states, and they are happy with being part of the united states. so there are all sorts of i am sure psychological studies that could be done on that very question. good question. anything else? >> i will give a cogent example of that very thing. in 1962 i took a summer job in north carolina. and headed down there from connecticut. i had never been in the south before. and i took most of my meals at a very well run diner in wilmington. and the waitress who often served me, that whole summer she
dug into the feeling between north and south. this was 1962. you know, it was really before the civil rights era got going down there. and of course what related was an experience in 1962 in wilmington, north carolina, his conversations with a wait are necessary diner. 1962, the beginning if not the milled of the centennial celebrations and memorializations of the civil war, which were larger than the 150th memorializations we had just a few years ago. not surprising it was on her mind. those of you who traveled in the american south, generally speaking i would say the civil war is more on the mine of southerners than it is on the northerners. perhaps that one loss thing going. yes, pat? >> i was in charleston three or four years ago on a tourist kind of thing.
i was in a plantation, and we were being addressed by the doe sent who was taking us around. and she referred to the war of northern aggression. and we were 15 miles from fort sumpt sumpter. i will rue to my dying day i didn't stand up and say we are 15 miles from fort sumpter, please answer that question. and walk out. but i didn't. i think you are being kind and gentle about what you are saying about that southerners think, for that woman to say that to a crowd of tourists was extraordinary. it was an extraordinary moment that she felt safe to say that. it was outrageous, really. >> i think for many southerners in that sort of view of the war i don't think the intention is to be antagonistic or adversarial. my former students in louisiana and mississippi would often joke with me about this because they
knew i was studying grant or the other side as it was viewed. as i said there are all different opinions on that war and its consequences, and you can run through your mind what all of those various opinions are. mostly what i found was very good natured. that's not to say there weren't an occasional confrontation -- not confrontation but discussion about the war and what it was over, and the consequences of it. sir? >> i'm sorry -- i grabbed the microphone on its way by. i will pass it on a just a minute i understand there is -- it sems the me like there has been a lot of more interest in that we are talking about this weekend at -- the civil war on the western frontier. but how hard is it for you to make this argument to people in other areas? you said you thought it would be easy with us. which i think it was. but is it becoming more highly accepted that this really was the pivotal point? >> it depends on what you mean
by here, and the pivotal point. if we think of the civil war in the west, meaning between the appalachian mountains and a i long the mississippi, yes. a conference at the previous university i was at before coming up to the staff, one of my students, a graduate student at the time was adamant about the east and gettysburg and that was where the war was fought and that was where the war was won and the west didn't matter. at the conference he asked a panel of eight or nine civil war historians from across the country that question, what was the most important theater, the east or west. they went down the line, the west, the west, the west, the west, the west. really looking at the campaigns, especially that grant orchestrated that really the successes that he had in the west, especially dealing with
the mississippi river, were essential to an even union victory. not that the least didn't matter. of course not. no one makes that argument. but the west is where the south suffered the most significant defeats. does that include kansas? as far as civil war campaign history, not so much, because there weren't many of those vixburg shiloh gettysburg ballots fought in kansas. but if we put kansas in with the west, yes, there is consensus that the west is the most important of the theaters. do you want to -- >> i was born here in 1963, 100 years to the year after quantitio's raid. i don't subscribe to the opinion i am about the state but i have heard people make the argument that in terms of the atrocities and the evilness that the back and forth and the border war made missouri and kansas equal,
and the word were no less -- >> equal? >> they would make the argument in southern missouri where it was an equal battle where neither could say they were the victim or more or less merciless. does that make sense what i am asking here? >> i think you are asking which side bears the greatest responsibility for the violence that took place here? >> yeah. >> most of the reading i have done is if we have to give an edge of who inflicted perhaps the most violence, i think we would have to look at the border roughians from missouri crossing over. >> good answer. >> i know where i am. and in part, it's simply the proximity, that if perhaps new england and the abolitionist societies up in massachusetts and connecticut were right next door, they would have had more people in. but the proximity of missouri,
hey you can come over and sack lawrence and be back in your bed that night made it much easier for that kind of transition to -- >> what about like who did the first strike? was it lawrence sacky. >> who threw the first blow, fired the first shot. >> yeah. >> i have no idea. >> okay. >> i man there it is who fired the first shot at lexington and condord between the british and the americans. nobody really knows. there is probably equal blame for some of the death and destruction that went on in that accepts. anything else? sir? >> an aspect of the civil war later in 1864 i think must often be discussed in your strategy classes. the war sort of stalled around petersberg, and it didn't seem the union had a big play on how they were going to capture petersberg and get the thing going. but there was a tremendous cave in that cost a lot of army people their lives.
what was the deal there? dural. >> yes. the question is about the siege of petersberg, which is very late in the war, into the spring, early part of late 1864 into is 65. grant has travelled west, taken command of the entire war effort, including the army of the potomac, the army that had been battling lee throughout the war. by the point that you are asking, grant has fought his way to the outskirts of richmond and petersberg, which are located very close to each other. robert e. lee had set up defensive lines to protect those cities. in june of 1864 until very late in march of 1865. the two armys are there facing each other. it was really trench warfare. not that different from what we are going to see in world war i. so grant is always looking for opportunities, how can i break into petersberg or richmond? lee is looking to defend.
one of the things that grant's army tried to do was to dig a tunnel underneath the confederate fortifications, pack it full of black powder, detonate it, create a huge explosion and then rush army troops through. it wasn't a new idea. grant had tried the same thing at wicksburg in the summer of 1873. and in world war i both sides will try the same thing to create a breakthrough. unfortunately, for the union side there at petersberg, when this was detonated, the debt nation went off as it should. you visit the ballotfield today, there is a still a huge crater from this explosion of black powder. the unfortunate part is the union soldiers that were sent through were not train for how to maneuver through a huge crater like that. they went in and rather than going around, they went down in. their commander was back in the
rear, drunk. and so they became essentially trapped in a fish bowl. it became a disaster. so a failure. primarily due to bad planning and bad leadership. and grant was pretty much, we are not doing that again. he came close in vixburg. but yes, the petersberg crater was a disaster. anything else? one more. >> thank you so much. this talk was wonderful today. prior to this, when we were reading the names, the phrase in a came to my mind was reconciliation. and this crazy thought of what if we had some people from missouri here to talk about this experience and reconciliation for the pain and suffering maybe on both sides? and i already recalled that there were reunion groups in lawrence of survivors. we have wonderful pictures of those. but there were also reunion groups of rochlo's raiders.
there is an interesting article about this. maybe finishing on how -- is there even reconciliation we have today about the civil war because of the controversy with for example, the confederate monuments? it seems like there is still a lot of work to be done. and we still have a little border war. i mean people joke about it. but you know, there is a real -- to a point of animosity, even, i think there were some city council in missouri where they passed some kind of resolution about lawrence. isn't that right? >> the resolution was requesting that the university of kansas sees to use the jayhawk as their mascot. >> why don't we reconcile, both between kansas and missouri and maybe as a nation? it's a good question. you know, civil wars are a unique kind of war. when you are fighting against the cliche of brother against
brother, family member against family member. those of you who share the same ideals, the confederacy harkened back to washington and the american revolution just as much as the north did. they claimed that as their legacy. and i think in this -- i am going to sort of play both sides a little bit. that for reconciliation, there probably has to be an acceptance of responsibility for what's happened. and without that acceptance, i don't know if there can be true reconciliation. times have changed considerably, but soon after the war was over, and after lincoln's death, generally the confederate soldier was granted a pardon. recognition was that you cannot round up every man who fought in the confederate army and confederate officials and have
mass executions. even the leaders, robert e. lee and jefferson davis. davis spent a couple of years in prison. lee, not even that. but it brings to mind a comment from a woman. i do not remember what said she was from but when she heard this offer of sort of blanket pardon, her response went something like pardon? pardon for what? for coming to our homes and our towns, burning our crops, killing our men, our fathers, our brothers? we don't need a pardon for that. and that sentiment, i think, has somewhat continued on. the view from the northern side is, well of course the southern side was wrong in how they were fighting, challenging the united states government, fighting whether you accept or not for slavery. but not all southerners view it that way. not all view it that way. so reconciliation in a civil war, not just ours, but many others, can be very difficult.
very difficult. anything else. >> a a friend in georgia said to me, the carpet baggers did more harm than the whole war. and i thought that was an interesting comment. i guess going down foreclosing on their lands and reconciliation never started the way lincoln envisioned it. >> yeah, the period after the civil war is often cited for some of the animosities that continue, good natured as it may be between the north and the south, a period of reconstruction. and talk to civil war historians. they have a very different take typically than in many cases the average american. because what most of us learn i think growing up if we remember anything about that period after the civil war is that it was a period in which a victorious
north traveled south and oppressed southerners even more so, both politically, militarily, the army stays in the south until 1876. economically, those carpet baggers come down and just take all of the wealth out of the south and the southern farms. and yeah, there was a bit of truth in that. but not every northerner who headed south after the war was corrupt. many saw an opportunity to make legitimate money. we think of some natural disaster like hurricane katrina. workmen from across the country went to help rebuild. were they all out to steal money from louisianians? no. there were going down because there were good business opportunities. same with the carpet baggers. every teacher that came down did not come down to indoctrinate
southerners into northern thinking. they were going down to help with the friedman schools for the slaves, slave children. the friedman schools were open to everyone. of course no white southerner would send his children to school with a former slave child at that point. so there is some truth in that, but the whole truth is often different from what we learn. [ applause ] . thank you all. thank you all. coming up thanksgiving weekend on the c-span networks -- on c pan tonight at 8:00 eastern, supreme court justice kagan followed by chief justice john roberts. friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern
former new jersey governor chris harris and others discuss the opioid epidemic. saturday at 8:p.m. eastern, photo journalists talk about their favorite photographs taken on the campaign trail. and sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern gun laws and self-defense. on book tv on c-span2 tonight at 8:30 eastern, retired general stanley mccrystal talks about 13 great leaders. friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, political writer derek hunter. saturday at 8:p.m., lindsey adario talks about photos she has taken in the middle east. sunday at 9:p.m. on afterwards, pulitzer prize winning journalist jose antonio vargas. on c-span3 tonight berkeley virginia. friday at 6:30 p.m., on the
presidency, reflections on former first lady barbara bush. saturday at 8:p.m. eastern on lectures in history, how the pilgrims became part of america's founding story. and sunday at 9:00 a.m. constitutional scholars philip bobbitt and akeel reed omar talk about how the u.s. constitution defines impeachable offenses for the president. thanksgiving weekend on the c-span networks. up next on lectures in history, baylor university professor thomas kidd teaches a class on the the first great awakening a period in the 1850s of christian revitalization that spread through the colonies. he explains how the salem witch trials led to traveling preachers. his class is about 70 minutes. >> we have been talking about the founding of the american colonies, and we ar